The New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer recently entered an agreement with Visit St. Pete Clearwater to host a two-week spring training at the Oldsmar Sports Complex.
When Major League Soccer club the New York Red Bulls entered an agreement with Visit St. Pete Clearwater to hold a two-week training camp at the Oldsmar Sports Complex from Jan 22-Feb. 3, it was believed the team would host at least one scrimmage game as well as open practices at the Tampa Road facility.
However, the match featuring the Red Bulls and the University of South Florida scheduled for this Saturday, Jan. 27, has been relocated from the complex to the USF campus in Tampa, and the team’s practices are all closed to the public, according to a team spokesperson.
“There won’t be any games here in Oldsmar,” Gordon Stevenson, Red Bulls communications manager, told Oldsmar Connect on Thursday, noting the team will play one game at USF, one at the Joe DiMaggio Complex in Clearwater and one at IMG Academy in Bradenton.
Stevenson added, “There won’t be any practices open to the public, either. Just a photo opportunity and meet and greet with youth soccer players next week.”
The New York Red Bulls practicing at the Oldsmar Sports Complex on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2017.
City officials admitted the news might disappoint the legion of soccer fans in the area who had hoped to catch a glimpse of one of MLS’ most recognizable clubs in action while they are in town.
“Attending games is fine, but as for practices, you have to remember they’re here to work,” Mayor Doug Bevis said by phone on Friday.
However, he said the decision to move the game could benefit the city, for several reasons.
“We’re fine with it,” Bevis said. “It gives the fields a chance to recover, because they’re so new and they’ve been given a good workout this week.
“It also works out well for our youth soccer programs because they have games on Saturday, and they will be using the concession stand that’s situated between the fields that day,” he added. “So, logistically it would’ve been kind of difficult.”
The partnership between the MLS’ New York Red Bulls and Visit St. Pete Clearwater will have an impact on youth sports programs as well as tourism in Pinellas County, according to Oldsmar Mayor Doug Bevis.
Bevis noted the agreement is in its first year, and things could change moving forward should the deal be renewed.
He also pointed out one of the main goals of the partnership was to help boost the youth soccer programs in Oldsmar, a task he believes the team is well on its way to accomplishing.
“They’re doing something with the youth programs next week, which I don’t believe all the teams are doing,” he said of the meet and greet session.
“That’s the most important thing to us, because who knows what kind of impact that will have on them in the future.”